Kirsten Vangsness
Penelope Garcia in CRIMINAL MINDS

In spring 2011, Kirsten Vangsness got to play double-duty in her role as Penelope Garcia, portraying the character on CRIMINAL MINDS and the spinoff series, “Criminal Minds:  Suspect Behavior,” on the Network.  Vangsness’ previous television credits include “Phil of the Future” and “LAX.” 

Currently, Vangsness is at work on a starring role in the independent feature film “Kill Me Deadly.”  Her other film credits include the independent film “A-List” and the comedic thriller “In My Sleep.”

Vangsness has been acting on stage since she was very young.  She received numerous awards and scholarships in both high school and college for acting, and also attended the prestigious California State Summer School of the Arts.  After graduating from Cal State Fullerton, Vangsness began performing in plays and improvisation in Los Angeles.  She has been a member of numerous theater companies in Hollywood, and is currently an active member of Theater of NOTE, where has served as president of the Art Board and also earned the coveted Golden Betty Award.  Vangsness' work has garnered her a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Natalie Schafer Award for “Best Emerging Comic Actress.”  In 2007, she starred in the West Coast premiere of Neil LaBute's "Fat Pig" at the Geffen Playhouse, for which she received a “Best Actress” Garland Award. 

In addition to acting, Vangsness has written various performance art pieces that have been seen throughout Orange County and Los Angeles.  She volunteered in many behind-the-scenes capacities, as the donation coordinator for the award-winning film "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” and as co-producer of “Famous Blue” for Theatre of NOTE.  Also, most recently at NOTE, Vangsness starred in the critically-acclaimed production of “Figure 8” and won accolades for her own piece, “Mess,” which she wrote and starred in.

Because her previous day jobs almost always included working with children, Vangsness continues to volunteer at elementary schools, reading and teaching afterschool improvisation and acting classes.  Recently, she gave the Commencement Address to the graduating class of 2012 at Cypress College.  Vangsness is passionate about making really good vegetarian soups, collecting music, recycling, her nieces, her dog Bastian and learning new jokes.

Vangsness was born and raised in California and lives in Los Angeles.  Her birth date is July 7.  Follow her on Twitter at @Vangsness.